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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Friday, July 17, 2015

What do you think about signs?

My husband, who is a very down to earth type of guy, has moments when he runs across what he feels are signs.

This all started with a bag of rags he picked up in a car place when out of town in rural Nova Scotia. 

For some reason my spouse was cleaning the car and  picked up one of those random bags they sell for those things.

Anyway the first rag he pulled out was from a T shirt with a Knoxville Tennessee logo on it. Now Knoxville is a long way from Yarmouth County Nova Scotia and was neither a place he had ever visited, or ever thought of.

Well the point of this story is that very shortly afterwards he got a call to go and work on a project based out of Knoxville that kept him travelling back and forth from there for a few years - and was one of his career highpoints. He loved Tennessee and so do I. It was just so lucky that we made that connection.

Well anyway Babs, is there a place you are going to here?


I have been extremely busy lately with teaching, family, family visits and sewing for that family. And at the end of August I am shifting from full time to part time and trying to get my head around that and working out new priorities.

About the same time a former colleague approached me about doing some work in Fiji (I have been there before) for a UN organization and that commitment and where it might lead, really had me doing some soul searching.

I know this sounds very glamorous but if you have ever done this kind of stuff it still is work and that far away you work pretty intensely, never much down time, and a lot of prep work so when you go do it you don't waste anyone's time.

Of course I was tempted.

However the time frame was putting me pretty close to the wedding and the thought of pulling this together, the sewing I have to do, wrapping up the marking for my summer courses, was pretty intense.

To make a long story short I decided to give it a pass, and more importantly, recommend a younger women who really needs this kind of a career break. Simply I decided someone else needed this boost. To quote superstitious husband who can still exhibit common sense "For you it would be work, for her it would be an adventure." 

This one statement did it for me.

The question is how do I spend my time in this next stage? 

For me I decided that rather than moving into consulting and new opportunities I really want to sew, encourage other people, and help out who I can help out. 

That is more satisfying to me than anything that sounds impressive, if I am articulating this well.

I just guess I am getting to the end of my serious quota. 

Since figuring this out these things have happened:

  • I reconnected with Burdastyle and am running a week long "power session" with them with another one to run in a few weeks.
  • I made my 14 year old niece a formal dress to wear to my son's wedding that, at that most awkward stage in life, makes her feel happy and glamorous (pictures to follow).
  • I am signed up to teach two courses at the hip sewing lounge/shop place around here this fall
  • I walked into the sewing machine dealer when taking my serger in for a service and was asked if I would run a shirt class in October
  • I have worked out a teaching schedule for a limited number of classes I will do at the university on a part-time basis only
And this morning, and this is the sign part, I got up early to finish some hand sewing on my niece's dress and there was an unexpected posting on my Facebook (I am completely inactive on FB).

It was from a student I taught a while ago, a mother of four who went back to school at 40, was diagnosed with breast cancer on the last day of her last class - and who has recovered and thrived. Out of the blue she wrote that my mentorship has meant a lot to her and that everyday she asks herself on the job what would Barb do. (I actually find this a bit unnerving as every day Barb made it up as she went along). After my student's post there was a comment left by someone who worked with me years and years ago who wrote "I wonder how many of us would say that".

Timing is of course everything and a wink that this was the right time for this reorientation is pretty nice. 


sewingkm said...

I always enjoy your posts. It appears that you are definitely going into a new phase of your life. I did the same three years ago when I retired from the corporate world. It's taken me until now to figure out that I find the most fulfillment teaching others to sew. Teaching one-on-one works best for me. My students range from youth (10-13) to adults (20-70). It brings me such joy passing on my knowledge of this beloved art. I sincerely hope you find this joy but I know you will! You are what my grandmaw called "a go-getter". Karen

patsijean said...

Regarding your question, I do not believe in "signs" at all as they are a result of faulty logic after the fact, not the future reaching back to you. Your life is moving along quite well due to your talent and work ethic. Go for it!

Bunny said...

I'm not a sign reader either but definitely married into a family that is. The fruits of your labor in the sewing industry are now coming to a well deserved harvest. Enjoy picking the fruits and remember, you can pick whichever fruit you want for yourself. But I think you knew that.

Janet said...

How do we define success? Being able to do what you love to do and to help out others sounds pretty awesome. I totally get it. I made a similar choice not to long ago and I have never looked back. I am so relieved that I chose what satisfies instead of getting caught up in that other stuff....

ACorgiHouse said...

It is really very easy to spread yourself too thin, to try to do everything. It is quite admirable, I think, to realize that something that sounds like a good thing is not a good thing for you. I have gone to do medical work in a Honduras hospital for the last few years, a week at a time, and it is serious work with a ton of preparation. I love it, and I'm going back in October, but it is no vacay. I don't know what you were looking at doing, but I know those who have not tried to function in third world (or close to it) locations don't understand the strategic things necessary to just brush your teeth or get over a queasy stomach. You did a good thing for a young lady who will (hopefully) thrive, and your skills and teaching expertise will enrich a lot of lives. I wonder how I'll do when it comes time to transition from working every day (which is exhausting sometimes, but I love what I do) to finding ways to occupy my calendar. You seem to be pulling it together so well, I agree that "what would Barb do?" sounds like a good position to take. Good luck.

Vicki said...

Its lovely to get comments like that. Makes you feel good and no doubt well deserved. And yes it is a sign you are on the right path!

Summer Flies said...

Signs. I don't always 'get' them but I see them and sometimes I work it out and others I don't but they are around. Today I had one.... don't know what it means yet. My sister's son is autistic (high functioning) and I responded to Freecycle for an offer of an information folder of the notes from a parenting course the Australian government runs for educating children with autism. He's (and my son) are going to high school next year and I thought my sister could use this. I went to pick it up this morning and got talking with the woman offering it. Her twin autistic boys are going to a (not local) high school I prefer for my son, where my sister's daughter went years ago and is a great caring school so it was great to get some real feedback especially as this woman is a teacher also. However, the real coincidence is that (keeping it short) we talked about our high schools and turns out her husband went to my school.... do you know him she asked.....when she told me his name, I said to her, you aren't going to believe me, but he and his family were our next door neighbours when they first came to Brisbane from Ireland in the '70's! It was great to catch up. I see this as a sign that the fight I'm going to go through with my son's father (my ex also high school teacher) will be with it as it is the school that will suit my boy.

Shame about Fiji but when you don't need if for whatever reason, it's thoughtful to pass it on to others. It opened the door for all those other things to come to you.

Kay said...

Do I believe in signs? Of course not. I'm a rational person with both feet firmly planted in reality. But do I kinda sorta believe in signs? Well... Three years ago I wanted to take time from work the 3 months before the US national election to work full-time in a neighboring swing state. However, my school system job forbid leave during the entire month of September. So, since I was old enough (and getting bored and frustrated under a new manager) I retired. On my very last day I got an email from the Obama campaign offering the opportunity to train and work as a full-time volunteer in Virginia. I took the offer and had one of the most intense and rewarding experiences in my life. Was that email on the last day of work a sign, or was it the culmination of years of political activism? I'm going with yes. It was a sign of what I should do, but it was also a result of reality-based experiences and activities.

I think signs are mostly a right-brained, gestalt look at events.

Donna W said...

I think you husband is a wise man regarding your work in Fiji. Besides, hoe would Daisy survive without her mommy.